GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A gunman who barricaded himself inside a Greyhound bus on Interstate 85 has been taken into custody, according to Gwinnett County police.
Investigators said they believe the man was having a mental breakdown.
The incident, which started around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, prompted a SWAT response and shut down the highway between Indian Trail and Beaver Ruin roads for hours in both directions.
Police told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas that the man had been behaving erratically and at some point, he pulled out a handgun on board the bus.
The driver stopped the bus on an onramp, where passengers scrambled to get out.
“I was just taking a nap and all of a sudden people were trying to escape,” passenger Shuhei Morita said.
Hai said he was on the bus heading to Clemson when the commotion broke out.
“Some people went to the top and they jumped off the bus,” Morita said.
Morita told Thomas he thought the driver locked the bus from the outside so that the passengers couldn’t escape. That was when he and others climbed out the windows of the bus to get to safety.
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“I was afraid because I thought I would break my legs,” Morita said.
Additional officers swarmed the scene and Gwinnett SWAT members closed in, trying to make contact with the gunman.
“SWAT team was behind the bus. At some point, they made contact with him and determined it was safe to enter the bus, confronted him and took him into custody,” Cpl. Ryan Winderweedle with the Gwinnett County Police Department said.
Police further stated that they used a flashbang to distract the suspect, giving them just enough time to disarm him.
But in the hours it took police to get the man off the bus, I-85 was closed.
“As soon as we heard about it, it was too late to get off. We was already in the mess and we [were] sitting there for two hours,” driver Zane Gray told Channel 2.
Area side streets became clogged as drivers unfamiliar with the area tried to get around the roadblocks. Nearby, the Greyhound passengers waited, exchanging stories about their escape from the gunman.
Gwinnett County police said all 38 passengers, as well as the driver, were safely evacuated from the bus.
“There was no exchange of gunfire. I‘m not sure if there was any force used, but everyone came out safe,” Cpl. Winderweedle stated.
Greyhound said the bus was heading from Atlanta to New York City.
In a statement, the company said it was working closely with local authorities “to ensure the safety of our passengers and driver.”
Officers checked the bus to make sure no suspicious devices were on board.
So far, police have not identified the gunman. It remains unclear what, if any, charges he may face.
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